In a single year we’ve gone from masks, to social distancing, to statewide lockdowns, to vaccines, and now to serious talk about using proof of vaccination as passports (notice I didn’t even get into a stolen elections and the phony insurrection on January 6th).
Somewhere, early on, there was even a President of the United States who dared call the culprit illness “the China Virus,” because that’s where this virus was either created and launched, or just biologically appeared. But now such a remark might get you cancelled.
But about the talk now: vaccine “immunity passports” as they’re called. Political and high profile people in Joe Biden’s Administration, as well as the UK, Italy, Chile, Germany (not to mention California, whose leaders think of this state as being it’s own country) have expressed interest in the so-called “immunity passports”—a system of requiring people to present proof of vaccination for COVID-19 in order to access public places, job sites, airports, schools, etc.
The proposed schemes generally include that vaccination authentication that can be stored in a digital token on a phone with various forms of two-step authorization as a safety mechanism. For those who don’t have a cell phone, or in parts of the world where cell phones are not widely available, plans have included invisible bar code-like tattoos, likely on the forehead or hand.
Gee, does the Mark of the Beast in the Book of Revelation come to mind?
While these immunity passports are supposedly intended to help combat the spread of COVID-19, they are clearly a threat to our privacy and information security.
However, the propaganda campaign supporting the immunity passports is so robust that millions of Americans don’t seem to care that this would be a giant leap toward a system of trans-national digital identification that could (and would) be used to collect and store all of our personal information and monitor our location.
Let’s be clear, there is currently no test that will prove for COVID-19 immunity. Instead what we have are antibody tests. In other words, even if you get the vaccination you’re still capable of catching the virus and spreading the virus.
The only thing the vaccination sort of guarantees is that you may not get a severe case of the Covid.
Did anyone hear what I just said? Even if you take the vaccination you’re still potentially able to get the virus and possibly spread the virus.
The big problem is, we don’t know whether people with antibodies have immunity. Meanwhile, there has been a flood of flawed COVID -19 tests and fraudulent marketing schemes about antibody tests. Even when validated tests are widely available, they may not be 100 percent accurate. The idea of an immunity passport should be a total non-starter unless it can guarantee accurate test results AND due process for those who want to challenge their test results.
But the problem with immunity passports isn’t just medical—it’s ethical. Analysis has shown that African Americans are far less likely than white, Hispanic, or Asian patients to be tested before they end up in the emergency room. Mobile testing sites administered by Verily Life Sciences (a subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet) require people to have a smartphone and a Google account before getting tested. Residents in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, were turned away from testing sites because they didn’t have cell phones.
By the way, Google’s entire business model is based upon gathering your information for marketing purposes (it’s almost impossible to find this in an online search anymore, but one of their slogans used to be, We know you better than you know yourself).
Requiring smartphone-based immunity verification to access public spaces like offices and schools would exacerbate financial inequities and create a two-tiered system of the privileged, who can move about freely in society, and the vulnerable, who can’t work, shop, or attend school because they don’t have a cell phone or access to testing.
And there are people who contend if they’re going to get the vaccine they want it to work. In other words they want to have assurance that they will not contract the Coronavirus and therefore will not be a carrier of the virus. Ideally, in an immunity passport society carriers will be shunned. Then there are others who would contend that they do not want to share their personal health information with the likes of a private for-profit corporation like Google. These too will get the cold-shoulder.
It’s Called, The Slippery Slope
Digital-format immunity passports could normalize digital-format proof-of-status documents more generally. I recall a few decades ago NO ONE would dare give out their Social Security number to anyone. Now look where we are. Millions have had their identities compromised from as result of the widespread practice of sharing Social Security numbers with a wide range of vendors. Advocates of immunity passports visualize a world where we can’t pass through a door to a workplace, school, or restaurant until the gatekeeper scans our credentials. This would habituate gatekeepers to demand such status credentials, and habituate the public to submit to these demands.
Do most realize that attorneys advise we never hand our cell phones to police officers, lock or unlocked? Why? Because it includes significant risks that could lead to unintended consequences for the presenter and a potential abuse of power by law enforcement.
This digital system could easily be expanded to check not just a person’s immunity status, but any other bit of personal information that a gatekeeper might deem relevant, such as banking information, age, pregnancy, HIV status, or criminal history; and all data–your data–could be accumulated into one database. And could we really trust those overseeing the databases? Just last year, an HIV database in Singapore leaked the personal information of more than 14,000 individuals living with HIV.
Our government is designed to protect our liberties, not recklessly abuse them.